Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Few Thoughts on Illegal Drug Policy

I responded at length to this posting by Los Angeles based columnist, Amy Alkon. I thought it worthy to repost here.

Illegal drug use is the #1 issue in Vancouver, BC where I live. A major swath of the city has been infested with lost souls who are high on one or more of: Heroin, crack cocaine, crystal meth, and a variety of others.

The consumption of these drugs costs money. It is estimated that 80% of all property crime (cars, homes, businesses) is directly related to drug use. With a 10:1 ratio of selling stolen property, $10,000 worth of stuff is stolen for every $1,000 worth of drugs. Not only has this driven insurance rates sky high, but it has also resulted in disruptions of phone and electrical service, as the drug addicts have ripped out wires in search of copper to sell for scrap metal.

Metro Vancouver was recently named as the organized crime capital of the world, with literally tens of thousands of homes being converted over to drug growing dens or drug manufacturing labs. Just the other week, an apartment complex in the supposedly good neighbourhood where I live (Kitsilano) had to be evacuated for a few days because some nutbar decided to turn his apartment into a crystal meth manufacturing facility. He killed himself with the fumes and potentially risked the lives of everyone else in the building from exposure to the fumes or an explosion.

From time to time we have gangstas (generally Asian or South Asian) roaming around the streets, firing automatic weapons into the cars & homes of their enemies. However, their bullets don't suddenly fall to the ground before hitting innocent people.

"BC Bud" is the high potency marijuana that others have mentioned. It is primarily shipped down to the U.S. in exchange for guns, cocaine, and heroin coming up here. Those items coming to us are not blessings on our society in any way, shape, or form.

The police have pretty much given up on arresting drug addicts and often drug dealers because our over lenient judges have continuously released these people back onto the street before the arresting cop starts his next shift.

Over in Switzerland, where they've had a pretty open "live and let live" policy about drug use, even they are rethinking it because of what it is doing to their society.

I don't precisely know what the ultimate solution to this Modern Day Plague is but its presence in my community has turned me from a pure Libertarian into a Pragmatic Libertarian.

One proposed policy I'm in growing support of is to forcibly incarcerate drug addicts into treatment facilities far away from the source of their misery. Many recovered drug addicts agree with this approach, saying that until a person hits rock bottom, they'll never go willingly. But it often takes many years of misery to reach that point. By then, many are dead.

Of course, there are significant forces against such a policy. They speak of "human rights" but I strongly believe what's really at the heart of their objections is that many, many people are now gainfully employed by the Poverty Industry. These are the folks who are supposedly employed to help these lost souls. They're very adept at applying band-aids but actually curing the drug addictions doesn't seem to be of much interest to them.

Am I cynical? I prefer the term "realistic and saddened observer"!

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